james pinson/Olivier Gourvil



'Rue Montgrand' 

The Gallery of the Ecole Supérieure 
des Beaux-arts de Marseille.

February 5  - 20, 2004

In the last year there has been a series of exhibitions of Olivier Gourvil's paintings. Following on from his major show at the Quartier gallery in Quimper last year comes this exhibition at the gallery of the Beaux-arts of Marseille. The format of the Quimper show is maintained in Marseille where a relationship between text, drawing and painting forms the basis of the exhibition.  Gourvil's paintings are centred on  a relationship between abstraction and image for which drawing is a starting point.   Exhibited together here are  all the titles of  the exhibited paintings, stenciled onto the wall of a corner of  the gallery alongside a series of drawings.  The juxtaposition of these words produces associations and images and a similar process can be seen to be at work in the graphic mechanisms of the drawings.  Networks of line and shape inhabit a territory somewhere between abstraction and figuration, sometimes evoking a modernist past and often bringing to mind  artists such as Leger, Matisse or Stuart Davis.  The immediacy and impact of  these forms have the determined feel of logos and there is the sense that these graphic motifs are frozen in their endeavour to communicate a message or information to the spectator.   The drawings serve as the schemas for the paintings.  They are projected and transcribed onto canvas and worked up as  intricately constructed surfaces which in turn creates new levels of reading. The linear tracery is most often inlaid into thick paint  that is applied in a variety of ways.  The figure/ground associations generated by the graphic motif are confounded and enriched through the reading of the material surface of the painting.  This confrontation between  the graphic gestalt  images  and the material  surface of the painting is both the key and the measure  of these works,  between them functioning as autonomous objects and co-existing within a network of associations and readings.  Gourvil's paintings are unusual  in robustly meeting the challenge raised by abstraction in painting  while also constructing works which have a solid pertinence within contemporary visual artistic practice.

James Pinson